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Sagrada Familia: The Unfinished Masterpiece

Some of our staff recently had the pleasure of traveling to Barcelona for the National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers (NABIE) conference. During our stay we were fortunate to tour the giant basilica and hear lectures from the former executive architect, Mark Burry, and the current head of Design.

As a structural engineer, Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia is one of the most remarkable pieces of architecture I have ever come across. This UNESCO World Heritage Site, which has been under construction since 1882, is a perfect example of how design and structural engineering can come together to create something truly magnificent. From the intricately designed facade to the soaring towers and arches, every aspect of the Sagrada Familia is a testament to Gaudi’s genius as an architect and structural engineer.

The Spires

One of the most impressive features of the Sagrada Familia is its towering spires. While Gaudi’s original plan called for 12 spires, there were an additional 6 added to bring the total to 18 spires in the basilica. At a height of 172.5 meters, the central spire of the Sagrada Familia is one of the tallest in the world. To support such a massive structure, Gaudi created a complex system of interlocking arches that distribute the weight of the spire evenly throughout the building. This innovative design not only allows the Sagrada Familia to stand tall, but it also gives it a unique and awe-inspiring appearance.


Another feature of the Sagrada Familia that highlights Gaudi’s and his collaborator’s brilliance is its use of natural light. The building features stained glass windows that flood the interior with a rainbow of colors, creating a truly breathtaking sight. To ensure that the light is distributed evenly throughout the building, Gaudi created a system of skylights and carefully placed reflective surfaces that bounce the light around the building. This not only creates a stunning visual effect, but it also serves to enhance the building’s overall structural integrity. The use of natural light not only brings out the beauty of the building but also reduces the reliance on artificial lighting, making the Sagrada Familia an eco-friendly structure as well.

Overall, Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia is a masterpiece of structural engineering and architecture that continues to inspire awe and wonder in all those who see it. From its towering spires to its intricate facade and breathtaking use of natural light, every aspect of the Sagrada Familia is a testament to Gaudi’s genius as an architect and structural engineer. It’s a true marvel of human ingenuity and a wonder that will continue to inspire generations to come.